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SERENE (SERENUS):

Pseudo-Messiah of the beginning of the eighth century; a native of Syria. The name is a Latin form of , which is found in a responsum of Naṭronai Gaon ("Sha'are Ẓedeḳ," p. 24a, b). Gregorius bar Hebræus ("Chronicon Syriacum," ed. Kirsch and Bruns, p. 123), however, speaking of the same false Messiah, writes his name , which was rendered "Severus" by the translators of the chronicle. Naṭronai states in his responsum (l.c.) that Serene represented himself as the Messiah, establishing certain religious observances opposed to the rabbinical law, abolishing prayer, neglecting the laws of "ṭerefah," not guarding the wine against "nesek," working on the second holy day, and abolishing both the ketubah and certain incest laws established by the scribes.

The date of Serene's appearance is given by Isidor Pacensis ("Chronicon," in Florez's "España Sagrada," viii. 298) as 103 of the Hegira (c. 720 C.E.), which was during the reign of Yazid II. This same historian states that in Spain many Jews abandoned all their property and prepared to join the supposed Messiah. The latter, indeed, owing to his promise to put the Jews in possession of the Holy Land, and, perhaps, owing to his hostility toward the Talmud, gained many adherents. He was finally captured and taken before Yazid II., who put some questions to him concerning his Messianic qualities which he was unable to answer. He declared that he had never had any serious design against the calif, and that he desired only to mock the Jews, whereupon he was handed to the latter for punishment. His adherents, having repented of their credulity, on the advice of Naṭronai Gaon were received again into their communities.

Bibliography:
  • Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., v. 152 et seq., note 14.
J. M. Sel.
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